March 15, 2007

omega-3s are great!

Here's a press release concerning Omega-3 fish oils and it's relationship with our brain.

Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh have found that consumption of fatty fish, such as Salmon, may increase grey matter volume in the brain, particularly in areas connected to mood.

"Researchers interviewed 55 healthy adult participants to determine their average intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Grey matter volume was evaluated using high-resolution structural MRI. The researchers discovered that participants who had high levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake had higher volumes of grey matter in areas of the brain associated with emotional arousal and regulation – the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, the right amygdala and the right hippocampus."
This is an interesting finding and may help explain the observation that Omega-3 fatty acids obtained from fish help alleviate symptoms of depression.

Reading this press release is also a coincidence for me, since one of my fellow graduate students gave a presentation on fish oil and depression in our Behavioral Neuroscience class last week.

From what I remember, it seems that fish oil really does alleviate the symptoms of depression. But only the EPA omega-3 fatty acid is accounting for the decrease in depressive symptoms. The other omega-3 found in fish oil, DHA, doesn't seem to have an effect. Also, the effect is not cumulative. Instead, the effect seems to go away as one increases the dosage of fish oil.

On another note, administration of a fish oil supplement seems to be a good treatment for postpartum depression. Fish oil seems to be one of the few supplements safe to take while pregnant or breast feeding, unlike other medications. In fact, taking a fish oil supplement while pregnant may be a good thing to do whether suffering from depression or not. The fatty acids found in these fish oils are essential to development and are only obtained through the diet. If a mother-to-be is not taking in a lot of these Omega-3s, the growing fetus may deplete her own source, because it needs these fats. Nonetheless, you should consult a physician before taking any supplements while pregnant!

Yea fish oil!


susan allport said...

Thought you'd be interested in this short omega-3 video:

pr1ttyricky said...

wow, the video is very interesting. thanks susan!